Going into his summit (that was not a summit), that had been downgraded to a chat to dumb down expectations, I thought that behind closed doors the conversation would go something like this:
“Hey Vlad, How am I doing?”
“You are kickin’ butt, but I think you need to give me a little spanking at the press conference and make it look like you are being tough on me to take the heat off.”
“You are not going to release the spanking tape, no Vlad, no! I’ve done everything you asked: started a trade war, called NATO our foe, supported all the bad boys out there, stoked the White Christian Nationalists, whittled away at the rule of law in our country and not spent one second engaged in working to stop you from infiltrating our next election, even though I have seen emails from you that are proof you meddled. I even insulted the Queen of England by walking in front of her after she served me that disgusting English tea. No flavor, no flavor.”
“I agree English tea has no flavor. But didn’t you just love our borscht? Don’t be silly Donald. You have been a good boy. The spanking tape is our little secret. You have been a really, really, good boy and papa Putin is proud of you. What I am saying is that you should tell them we discussed the meddling and even though I denied it, you are mad, and will take action against us. I will get mad back and your American idiot people will take a deep breath. In a couple of weeks your fickle, mindless people will forget all about it and we will be back in business. And anyway, I wouldn’t start with the spanking tape, but probably with the pee tape as sort of an appetizer. And I would hold on to the financial stuff as my ace in the hole. Ha, ha, ha! But don’t worry, Donald, we are good.”
So when The Don stood at the podium -just a few days after the Special Prosecutor indicted 12 Russians for breaking in to the DNC’s emails- and threw the U.S. intelligence agencies under the bus for the entire world to see and tried to distract us once again with his tired diversion tactic of “where is the Clinton email server,” not only was everyone (including some Fox News people!) shocked, but I think Putin was as well.
The one thing missing from the press conference was The Don and Putin bringing out a life size cut out of the “400 pound” hacker guy with the tag: I have Hillary’s server.
Like all who have tried to reign him in, even Putin failed. After all, if anyone knows how to control an asset it is the former KGB man. The goal is to squeeze every ounce of juice out of the asset before discarding them. BTW, did you see the smirk on Putin’s face when a reporter asked him if he had any compromising info on The Don? And when he said nyet, The Don piped in like a little boy after being defended by his father for something bad he did: “If they had anything they would have released it already.” (See, see, I told you I didn’t do it!) Nyet! Why would someone say that? Putin’s power is in the info he has on you. What an imbecile!
Perhaps the most sinister part of the news conference was Trump’s seeming openness to a deal in which F.B.I. investigators could question people in Russia in exchange for letting Russians question Putin critics in America. Putin referred specifically to associates of his arch-nemesis Bill Browder, a businessman (and British citizen) who has succeeded in getting seven countries, including the United States, to pass laws punishing Russian oligarchs suspected of corruption.
The Don seemed truly touched by what he perceived as the graciousness of the gesture referring to it as an “incredible offer.” You could see his coloring change from orange to red, from the blushing and gushing, like someone who has just won an award they weren’t expecting. Oh gee, what an honor, what a surprise, Vlad. What a fair trade. See Putin really is a mensch. What an imbecile!
But as outrageous as that was to watch, there was no way that he was going to really entertain that proposition, right?
Cut to a few days later and the White House is floating the idea that the U.S. might honor Putin’s request and throw in a whole bunch more people, including former ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul. Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? Don’t sound like no good deal!
And there I go using a double negative. I guess it is infectious. Watching The Don go from would to wouldn’t, no to yes, yes to no in a perverse version of “You say tomato, I say tomato,” was like watching a man having a complete psychic meltdown. Even when he read his prepared double negative statement, he couldn’t contain the psychic leakage and tied himself in (k)nots: “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.” Yes, Don there are a lot of people out there.
Republicans are you paying attention? This is the Putin puppet and imbecile that you are propping up so you don’t upset your base. How bad does it have to get? Haven’t you sucked up enough to this man who imperils the world and has no idea what he is doing?
So how to explain The Don’s behavior during the press conference? How to explain his capitualtion and sycophancy to Putin.
To start with, we have the issue of what the hell does Putin have on him? Pee tape aside, The Don’s financial interactions go way back and run deep. But probably the most salient period was during the mid- 2000’s, when The Don, who could not get a loan from any U.S. bank (the great deal maker was considered a black hole money pit), was loaned hundreds of millions of dollars by Deutsche Bank, which has known ties to Russian money laundering. Remarkably, when The Don couldn’t pay back his loans, he sued Deutsche Bank and what did they do? They loaned him more money! Now that’s the kind of bank I want when I’m loan shopping.
Putting on my psychologist hat for a moment, perhaps his behavior is reflective of a daddy issue.
The Don’s dad was powerful and humiliated him; he made him feel very small and all he wanted to do was get his approval. The way to get his father’s approval was to become as ruthless as him.
Putin is powerful and The Don, like with his father, both fears him and needs his approval. The only way out of his own smallness and powerlessness is to identify with daddy/Putin. But the man who puffs out his chest and insults and denigrates others, is a mouse when confronted by someone like Putin, who he perceives as truly powerful. Brings to mind the phrase “Who’s your daddy” (or in this case, Vladdy!), which is another way of saying: who do you serve?
Under all the bravado is a man who lives in fear of being exposed as small and insignificant. Thus his obsession with the idea that the Russians helped him win the election, as that would delegitimize his victory. And psychologically, that is not tolerable as it breaks the veil of his grandiosity and connects him to how very small he is.
Putin has The Don trapped. As an astute student of psychology, he knows The Don can’t tolerate the idea of his illegitimacy. Between what he literally has on The Don and psychologically has over him, Putin has him tied up in Nyets. This leads us to ask the obvious question of The Don: Who do you really serve? The fact that we have to ask the question is scary enough; the fact that it might not be the U.S. is not only an American crisis but an international one as well.
P.S. The Senate voted 98 to 0 to block The Don from sending U.S. citizens to Russia for interrogation. But guess who’s coming to the White House for dinner this fall?